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Euro throwback: the Mediterranean Derby as Italy and Spain meet again

With nine major titles between them – five World Cups and four European Cups – it’s no surprise that Italy and Spain meet in the semi-finals of Euro 2020.

With nine major titles between them – five World Cups and four European Championships – it’s no surprise that Italy and Spain meet again at the semi-final stage of Euro 2020. A place in the final on July 11th awaits for one of these two footballing powerhouses.

As things stand, it’s Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri who are the favourites to progress, according to the Italy v Spain odds. And they are likeliest to play England, as the betting on England v Denmark odds suggest.

Interestingly, the two nations have squared up at the last three European Championships – so what better time to rewind the clock and see who could have the upper hand this year.

Euro 2016: Last-16

27th June 2016: Italy 2-0 Spain (Stade de France, Saint-Denis)

After meeting in the previous tournament’s final, Italy and Spain met earlier on in France – in the first round of knockout football. This time around, the defending champions were eliminated. Now-veteran centre-half Giorgio Chiellini put the Azzurri ahead after the half-hour mark, and Spain were grateful for goalkeeper David de Gea who was on-hand to save them countless times throughout the match. However, victory for Italy was assured in second half stoppage time, when Graziano Pelle’s quality strike sent them through to the quarter-finals.

Euro 2012: Group Stage and Final

10th June 2012: Spain 1-1 Italy (PGE Arena, Gdańsk)

1st July 2012: Spain 4-0 Italy (Olympic Stadium, Kiev)

Italy and Spain were both drawn in Group C, alongside Croatia and the Republic of Ireland – and they faced each other in their opening match of Euro 2012. It ended honours even, after Cesc Fabregas cancelled out Antonio di Natale’s curling strike midway through the second half. Spain went on to win their remaining games to top the group, while Italy finished as runners up after being held to Croatia in their second match, but beat the Republic of Ireland.

Their paths crossed again, in the final. This time, Spain were dominant and duly defended their European title – in what remains the greatest margin of victory in a Championship final.

La Roja started brightly and were rewarded in the 14th minute, when David Silva’s header hit the back of the net. Their lead was doubled before half time, courtesy of Jordi Alba’s individual effort, after a blistering run. Fernando Torres then proved to be an inspired substitution from Vicente del Bosque. The striker steered home Spain’s third goal, before turning provider for then-teammate, Juan Mata to complete the scoring. An absolute rout in Ukraine and second successive European Championship title for Spain.

Euro 2008: Quarter-finals

22nd June 2008: Spain 0-0 Italy – 4-2 on penalties (Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna)

It may have been a drab affair on a humid night in Vienna, but truth be told, Spain had the better of the chances during their quarter-final clash with Italy. Marcos Senna came closest towards the end of the regulatory 90 minutes, and in extra time, David Silva and Santi Cazorla both saw attempts narrowly miss.

With penalties deciding who would reach the semi-final, Iker Casillas, so often the hero for La Roja, ensured they won their second title – their first since 1964. The former Real Madrid shot-stopper saved from Daniele de Rossi’s spot-kick, before di Natale’s poor effort was easily saved. Fabregas was the last man to step up, calmness personified, and coolly slotted home from 12-yards to hand Spain a 4-2 victory on penalties.

Unbeaten in 32 matches – a national record – it’s hard to look beyond Italy at this stage of proceedings. But can Spain upset the Euro 2020 winner odds and win a third title in four tournaments?

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